Author Archives: Beth Murch

About Beth Murch

Poetess, spoken word artist, freedom fighter, wyse womyn, disrespecter of vowels.

For Jane


This poem is dedicated to Jane, who asked me write about being incarcerated.


I didn’t want to write this poem.
Even as I stand here right now, performing this piece, exactly like you asked me to,
I feel uncomfortable.
I don’t like to tell other people’s stories.
I don’t want to appropriate someone else’s struggle and pretend that it is my own,
And I don’t want to receive accolades for appearing enlightened when I’m just as in the dark as everyone else.
When you begged me to write a poem about you being incarcerated, I immediately told you to write your own poem because your words would mean so much more than my own,
But you refused.
You said, “No one will listen to me and besides, I’ll be dead in a year, anyway.”


How do I tell them the story of your life? How do I get them to remember you like I will always remember you?
They will never see the deep lines around your eyes and mouth. They will never smell the cigarettes you couldn’t stop chain-smoking, or see the yellow nicotine stains on your fingertips. They will never hear your throaty laugh, see your long, shiny black hair, or see the incredible beadwork that you meticulously created and showed me with such shy pride.
You are more than a statistic – you are an actual person, with hopes and dreams, and a self-deprecating sense of humour. You are more than your illness, more than your addiction, more than your crimes.
You were abused as a child. You are burdened by mental illness and poverty. You are homeless. You have children that were apprehended by Family and Children’s Services. You are racialized. You are alone.
Crack, heroin, alcohol – your “drugs of choice”…these are your coping mechanisms. Sex work is how you get them. You’re not Julia Roberts being lavished with attention by Richard Gere. How many snowy streets have you strolled hoping for strange men to pick you up in their cars, just so that they could use your body and you could get some crumpled bills?
You told me that your best friend, who was also a sex worker, was murdered and her body parts were scattered across the city in dumpsters. You believe that it is only a matter of time before you are next.


Sometimes, when the sky stretches wide and blue above me,
I think about prison and what it must have been like for you there.
You would miss the sky, you told me. You missed weather and starlight and the sunshine on your shoulders.
You said that you had spent more time in prison than out, and that prison was the only life that you understood.
You liked the routines and the accessibility of food, but you hated the lack of privacy.
You called prison “timeless time” – a place where every minute lasted an eternity.


How do I describe what it was like for you to be incarcerated?
Do I tell them about that time you told me that you must be an animal because you keep getting locked up like one?
Do I tell them that you still had access to all your drugs of choice?
Do I tell them how you had a greater sense of community with your fellow inmates than you do on the outside?
Do I tell them that if you don’t end up dead first, you’ll be back inside those concrete walls?
Do I tell them that this system isn’t working – that it’s failing you and so many others?


I didn’t want to write this poem for you. I didn’t want to put words in your mouth. But most of all, I didn’t want to face the reality that you are either back in prison or that you are dead, and I’ll never know whatever became of you, one more person stuck in an unjust justice system.
I wonder if in your dreams you fly free with the wind in your face.
I want to picture you like that
Twirling and laughing with your hands stretched wide, calling your children to you
Years of sorrow and hardship melting in the drizzle of spring rain.


I wrote this poem for you at last.
Fly free.

Is this your image? If so, let me know so that I may credit you.


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This work, “For Jane” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Heart Daughter


They told me that you were born missing most of your brain,
But to me, you were perfect.
I’ve fallen in love dozens of times, but nothing prepared me for the way it felt to hold you in my arms and look into your grey-blue eyes:
Calm, still oceans that harboured secrets no one would ever discover.

You were not a child of my body, but you were a child of my heart.

Born to teenage parents who had underestimated the challenge of raising a special needs child, I cared for you in the hospital for the month after your birth while you waited for a foster home.
Doctors and nurses focused on how you wouldn’t live past ten,
But all I could focus on was the way you looked at me whenever I cradled you and sang,
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”


What does it mean when a child is born imperfect?
Some people take uncreased sheets of paper just to fold them into shapes called “art”.
Some people pour gold into fractured pottery just to celebrate the beauty of splintered history.
If art and history can be subjective, then who am I to behold the creation of Almighty G-d and call it anything less than spectacular?
You, you are made of the magic of stars and cells, angels and organisms, fairy dust and molecules,
Spackled together by two people who didn’t know how to raise a child who wasn’t like other babies,
And I, I was the witness to this messed-up miracle of a sweet baby girl born imperfectly perfect, perfectly imperfect.
All I could do in your presence was hope that I could kiss you enough for both our lifetimes whenever I cradled you and sang,
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”


Your name is a song that dances on my lips in the arabesque of a half-smile or the brise of laughter in a quiet moment.
Time races by in sunrises and sunsets,
Almost as fast now as those hours at the hospital where I counted your fingers, toes, and eyelashes.
Somehow, I have ended up loving you without you much longer than I loved you while knowing you.
The day I handed you to a woman I didn’t know to take you away to a place that I’ll never know, knowing that I’ll never see you again,
I sat down on the pavement outside the hospital and cried in the autumn rain.
They say that motherhood is momentous because it is choosing to forever have your heart walk around outside of your body,
And in that moment, as the raindrops beat down, I became a true mother.


You are my Heart Daughter, and wherever you go, I will always long for you.
Every night before I go to sleep, I cradle all my love and hope and wishes for you in my arms and I never forget to sing,
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

Chloee passed away February 22nd, 2018. I will never forget her.


 Creative Commons License
This work, “Heart Daughter”, by Beth Murch,  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

On Sensitivity


Rumi says, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will you become polished?”

I’ve often been accused of being “too sensitive”.
My feelings have been dismissed because I can rarely express them without leaking from my eyes,
So I’m labeled as “excessively emotional”
As if my sentiments become invalid because they come served with salt,
As if my inability to remain stoic in the cacophony of daily existence is somehow a failure.

I think it takes courage to be tender-hearted.
Every day, I make a choice between anaesthetising myself to Life’s bittersweet reality and becoming highly attuned to the mechanical humming of the Universe:

Have you ever held someone in your arms as they took their last breath?
I have felt warm skin slowly turn cold and heartbeats fade away like the notes of a song.
I know how to close the eyes of someone who has died so that family members see only a sleeping face.

Have you ever held someone in your arms as they failed to take a breath?
“Code Pink” sounds so adorable until you learn it means “neonate cardio-respiratory arrest”.
Did you know that the weight of the whole world can be 7lbs, 9 oz when a baby dies?
I’ve whispered, “I’m so sorry” more times than I’ve practiced this poem.

Have you ever held someone in your arms as they took their very first breath?
I have beheld the miracle of virgin lungs being filled with air in my very hands,
Seen the magic of a blue body turned rosy,
And felt the pulse of an umbilical cord between my fingers.

These events are not one-off experiences in my life. These moments are my life’s calling. How can I not be sensitive?
Of course the surface of my heart is raw like road-rash!
Of course it’s always rainy season on my face and it’s all I can do to keep my make-up on!

Some people believe if we numb ourselves to the elements, we become enlightened,
I say if emotions are the elements, we should step outside and experience the weather!

The only wisdom that I have to impart to you today is that Life is  precious and short.
Allow yourself to weep. Allow yourself to rage. Allow yourself to laugh uproariously.
Allow yourself to feel every little thing while you can.

Rumi also said, “The wound is the place where the light enters you”.

I have been cracked open a thousand times and I wouldn’t change it for the world because I am filled with so much light.


Is this your picture? Let me know so that I may credit you!

 Creative Commons License
This work, “On Sensitivity” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Afternoon Thoughts


I sometimes wish
you would reach across the miles
to somehow smooth over
mountains of wrongdoings
oceans of salty tears
shine sun rays
on the tropical rainforest of my heart
where the colours just haven’t been as bright
since the day you went away



I remember
my fingernails once left bloody crescents on my palms
my jaw ached from gritting my teeth until they were broken
your empty promises split my skin like the edges of paper
and then
I remember
how much I enjoy sleeping through the night now

But still


wish I could hold your hand and giggle once more
wind up at the bottom of another coffee pot together
whisper secrets and promises anew
while writing poems about ghosts that linger in the shadows
wish that I was still the one you turned to at 4 AM
wind up choking when I hear your voice
whisper your name to remember the taste of it in my mouth
while writing poems about a love that never made sense to me



pretend that I never happened
only speak my name as a curse
only look my way when time stands still
only hope to keep me broken-hearted
like a child.
But friendships are not like playgrounds
and long after the bell rings
you are going to remember me
if only to sing yourself to sleep
if only to hold yourself when you are lonely
if only to remind yourself of a time when you had a home



I remember your name when I light my Shabbos candles
because no matter what, I still pray that you are blessed
I may not be able to look at the pictures yet
but the memories are never far from my mind
I will always look for you in a crowded room
I will always answer the phone when you call.
My heart will always be full of you.

I will see you in another lifetime
where our history together will be as light as butterfly wings
and we will be together again.


Creative Commons License
This work, “Afternoon Thoughts” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Remember Me?


It’s May and little sprigs of green are poking their heads out of the ground. The winter’s snow is finally gone (we hope!), and things feel fresh and new.

I’ve been fighting a losing battle with writer’s block over the past year. For the past year or so, poetry has not felt like my friend…which was weird, because I’ve always been able to turn to poetry as a friend, even in the toughest of times. But what to do when poetry itself is the problem? Hmm.

Anyway, spring is here and I am slowly experimenting with writing once again.

This is what I have been up to:


I got published in Oratorealis! Check out Spring 2017’s Issue 2.1 on page 18 and 19, and you will see my poem, “~4 AM~”! This is rather exciting for me, because it was a goal of mine to be printed in this publication, so achieving that has got the old creative juices flowing once again. I’m glad that “~4 AM~” found a good home, especially one that includes the work of some very talented artists.


I’ve also been published in a zine that will be released on Mother’s Day (May 14, 2017) called, Soother: Femmes Grieving Family and Fertility. The poem, “Ritual For A Much-Wanted Child That Will Never Be Conceived” was the poem to end my writer’s block, and I feel both very good and very vulnerable that it is being shared with so many people. I’ve seen a preview of the zine, and it is gorgeous! It is definitely worth money, but it is being generously offered on a sliding scale starting from $0. If you are interested in ordering a copy, go here.

I was strolling through Facebook the other day and came across some pictures of me performing in Vancouver at the Verses Festival back in 2015. See?

me at verses

me at verses 2

Lastly, I am gearing up for a set at Bracelet of Hope’s Women to Women show in Guelph, on May 28, 2017. I’m looking forward to my feature there, as well as doing a little shopping in their pop-up boutique!

I hope you are doing well, my friends, lovers, dears, and queers.

Trees, Bees, and Babies!

Building Community Through the Arts


On March 1st, 2017, I will be performing at the Kitchener Public Library at an event called “Building Community Through the Arts”, presented by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Women & Gender Studies’ department. There will be lots of great local artists and juicy community conversation regarding topics related to social justice. Please come out!

Event information can be found here.